NSF grant supports women in STEM

Contact: Catherine R Caldwell

The ASCEND collaboration will increase the advancement of mid-career women in STEM fields.

A grant of $999,899 over five years from the National Science Foundation will support the advancement of mid-career women STEM faculty across institutions and regions. Led by Professor of Chemistry Sarah Kirk of Willamette University, the Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development (ASCEND) collaboration involves six partner institutions and up to 75 participants from colleges and universities across three regions — the Northwest, the Midwest, and the Southeast.

The six-member, interinstitutional project team will create peer mentoring networks, which will meet monthly online and annually face-to-face. Participants will be provided with networking and collaboration opportunities, education, training resources, and professional support.

Faculty will identify barriers specific to their professional advancement, such as too few leadership roles or insufficient scholarship productivity, and will develop a strategic plan to address them. Additionally, administrators will collectively evaluate existing policies and practices, taking into consideration intersectional impact factors. Faculty and administrators will work together to strategically design and implement comprehensive campus-specific change plans that reduce barriers encountered by women in STEM fields, create more equitable communities, and foster the retention and advancement of a diverse STEM faculty population.

As a rising tide lifts all boats, this regional approach develops faculty and institutions and has the potential to establish the critical mass needed to engender multi-institutional transformations by both developing women leaders among the faculty and also enabling women and men administrators to improve sociocultural environments and remove institutional obstacles to advancement for diverse faculty.

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